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Santa Monica Neighborhood Group Battle May Be Near an End

Frank Gruber for City Council

Ted Winterer for City Council 2012

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Re-elect Robert Kronovet for Rent Control Board

Pico Business Improvement District
7th Annual Pico Festival
Sunday, October 28th

By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

October 22, 2012 -- Members of the Wilmont Neighborhood Coalition voted Saturday to move on from the contentious battle that has plagued the organization since June, passing a motion to forgive and forget all alleged wrongdoings while reinstating members who had been kicked out during the struggle.
Council member Kevin McKeown speaks to Wilmont members about the Miramar while parliamentarian Kim Goldsworthy moderates (photos by Jason Islas)

The motion, which passed 39 to 3, stated “that we (Wilmont) forgive and forget all alleged misbehavior and reinstate all memberships in good standing” and applied to some 15 members who had received letters from the Wilmont board in July terminating their membership.

The members also voted to rescind the group's endorsement of the Miramar project and they tabled proposed changes to the group's governing rules that would've have tripled their length.

“This is the worst thing I've seen happen in 18 years,” Wilmont board member Larry Isaacs told the crowd in the auditorium Saturday, referring to the motion to reinstate the members, adding that those people had been kicked out of the group for flouting the organization's rules.

He was talking about a June 9 meeting when, after Chair Valerie Griffin attempted to postpone the group's board election, the members in the room insisted that the election go forward.

The eight candidates who participated in that election were among those whose memberships were terminated.

Despite Isaacs' protest, Kim Goldsworthy -- a professional parliamentarian hired by Griffin to preside over Saturday's meeting -- said that he would yield to the authority of the membership on the matter.

Once the members were reinstated, and their voting privileges restored, the group moved forward with the board elections.

Wilmont votes to reinstate ousted members

Though a letter sent out to Wilmont members on September 27 listed only two candidates, members voted Saturday to include the eight members who had thrown their hats into the ring on June 9.

“Point of information!” one member of the audience shouted to the stage where Goldsworthy sat with a stack of books and a copy of the group's bylaws. “Can we vote for the candidates by acclamation?”

Goldsworthy paused to study the stack of papers on the table.

“By George, I believe you can!” he answered, and shotrly afterward, all 10 candidates were voted onto the board by the members.

Council member -- and Wilmont resident -- Kevin McKeown said that though the organization has had troubles recently, it was a “tempest in a teapot” compared to the “hurricane” brewing in the city. He was referring to the Miramar redevelopment project, which would add up to 120 condos and three new buildings to the site.

McKeown produced several plastic bones from his pockets, saying that developers come into town and offer people incentives to support their projects, or "throw them bones".

He tossed the bones to members of the audience to demonstrate his point.

Many of the eight who ran on June 9 cited the Wilmont board's decision to endorse the project last year as their main impetus for running for a position on the board.

McKeown presented the membership with a resolution Saturday that rescinded the organization's endorsement of the project but also said that the project is too big and shouldn't go forward in its current form.

The resolution passed -- to applause -- with an overwhelming majority.

McKeown called on members to attend Council meetings where development issues would be discussed, especially changes to the Downtown Specific Plan.

McKeown takes a question from a Wilmont resident

Did Saturday's meeting spell the end for Wilmont's troubles?

"I certainly hope so," said Jeanne Dodson, former Wilmont chair and one of the members elected to the board Saturday.

“I don't know what decisions will be made,” said Griffin. Over the course of the meeting, she repeatedly said that she didn't believe decisions made at the meeting that hadn't been properly noticed -- that is, weren't in the September 27 letter -- would be legal under the California Corporation Code.

“I remain concerned about the credibility of Wilmont and neighborhood groups in general,” she said, because of the “wanton disregard” for the rules displayed by certain members.

Wilmont's next board meeting is Monday at 7:00 p.m. at the Ken Ewards Center.


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